Pearson considering using markers to be part of national tutoring programme

An exam board is scoping out whether to redeploy its markers as tutors so it can get involved in the government’s £1 billion catch-up plans.

Pearson has contacted examiners they identified with “appropriate skills and experience” to “explore” whether the board could be part of the programme.

Of the £1bn catch-up funding announced by the government last month, £350m will go into setting up a national tutoring programme, offering subsidised tuition. Schools will use the remaining £650 million to pay for catch-up programmes.

In the correspondence seen by Schools Week, Pearson said: “We would like to explore whether Pearson could support this initiative.

“We have identified you as one of a group of associates that we feel have the appropriate skills and experience for this opportunity, so we have created an expression of interest form which aims to gather information about existing Pearson Associates and markers and your interest in delivering tutoring of this sort.”

It added that any expression of interest is “purely indicative at this stage, as further information about the NTP becomes available”.

Exam boards have had to decide how to remunerate examiners this year, with the summer tests cancelled due to coronavirus.

Schools Week reported in May how Pearson had offered pay-offs instead of furlough for some examiners.

The NTP will be running open funding calls to select tutoring organisations, according to the Education Endowment Foundation which is overseeing the scheme.

Organisations will be chosen on how closely their delivery fits with the existing evidence base on tutoring, which EEF said shows “high dosage” one-to-one or small group tutoring delivered by trained tutors in partnership with schools is effective.

Other criteria include quality, such as tutor training, and scalability. For organisations that do not have robust evidence of their impact, evaluations will be carried out to determine eligibility to access additional NTP funding.

Under the scheme there are two types of roles: a tutor who is external to the school providing, for example, one hour of tutoring per week for a course of 12-15 weeks, whereas a NTP coach would be in schools full-time providing intensive support for the most in need pupils.

A Pearson spokesperson said: “We are working with schools, parents and students in a variety of ways to help children to continue learning and making progress in their lives despite the challenges we all face right now.

“We always aim to support government initiatives, so we are currently reviewing whether there is a way we can help the delivery of the National Tutoring Programme.”